Open Access

Alutiiq Ancestors’ Use of Birds During the Ocean Bay Period at Rice Ridge (49-KOD-363), Kodiak Island, Alaska

Madonna L. Moss, Amy Shannon, Brittany Falconer, Scott Blumenthal, Jensen Wainwright, Elizabeth McGuire and Molly R. Casperson


Rice Ridge (49-KOD-363) is a deeply stratified archaeological site on Kodiak Island, Alaska, with well-preserved faunal remains from three occupations dating to the Ocean Bay tradition. The site contained an extensive bird-bone assemblage analyzed here for the first time. Casperson (2012) studied bird bones from Mink Island (49-XMK-030), also located in Alutiiq/Sugpiaq territory, and found that birds played important roles in the lifeways of Ocean Bay groups, even though these people have been portrayed as primarily dependent on marine mammals and fish. At Rice Ridge, cormorants, ducks, murres, and geese (among other birds) were vitally important to Alutiiq ancestors, especially during the winter. The relative abundance of birds differs across the three occupations at Rice Ridge, although these differences resist easy explanation. What is clear is that Alutiiq ancestors consumed birds as food and also processed quantities of bird skins for clothing that was crucial to their survival.

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